\ ˈfes How to pronounce fess (audio) \
fessed; fessing; fesses

Definition of fess

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to own up : confess usually used with up


\ ˈfes How to pronounce fess (audio) \
variants: or less commonly fesse

Definition of fess (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a broad horizontal bar across the middle of a heraldic field
2 : the center point of an armorial escutcheon

Synonyms & Antonyms for fess

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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Examples of fess in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Equally, a leader with RSD who can’t ‘fess up to their own shortcomings will create havoc. Nancy Doyle, Forbes, 25 Apr. 2022 The litany of lies that Mr. Leissner had to fess up to on the stand was long and in some cases unbelievable. Matthew Goldstein, New York Times, 8 Apr. 2022 The caller was the Comedy Cellar’s booker, and Velez had to fess up. Stuart Miller, Vulture, 22 Oct. 2021 Before making any major life decisions, Joe needed to fess up to what happened earlier. Dana Rose Falcone, PEOPLE.com, 5 Oct. 2021 Before the night ended, my dad would fess up and everyone had a good laugh. Gregg Opelka, WSJ, 18 June 2021 Caught unprepared, many interviewees either fess up to recent mistakes or avoid admitting to failure. John M. O'connor, Forbes, 27 May 2021 And Ramona didn't fess up to being a socially incompetent citizen who has traveled for the entirety of quarantine or anything like that. Jodi Walker, EW.com, 11 Sep. 2020 Instead of trying to take the easy way out, straighten your spine, fess up and do the right thing. Abigail Van Buren, oregonlive, 1 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Instead of trying to take the easy way out, straighten your spine, fess up and do the right thing. Abigail Van Buren, oregonlive, 1 June 2020 Not until after the game -- LSU beat South Carolina 6-4 to stay alive in the SEC Tournament -- did Peterson fess up. Christopher Dabe, NOLA.com, 25 May 2018 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fess.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of fess


1840, in the meaning defined above


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for fess


short for confess


Middle English fesse, from Anglo-French faisse band, from Latin fascia — more at fascia

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Time Traveler for fess

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The first known use of fess was in the 15th century

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Cite this Entry

“Fess.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fess. Accessed 18 Aug. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on fess

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about fess


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